Editor's Note: SellingPrepaid is excerpted from SellingPrepaid E-Magazine, which can be found at SellingPrepaid.com, a Web site providing information and analysis to benefit ISOs and merchant level salespeople in the burgeoning prepaid market. If you'd like to become involved in SellingPrepaid, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information, visit www.sellingprepaid.com.
Aite Group LLC released a report in March 2009 that analyzes key trends impacting the prepaid card space, looks at challenges the payments industry must overcome and identifies the companies deemed most admired by industry insiders. The report is based on 21 interviews with leading U.S. distributors, networks, processors, marketers and issuers.
Aite said 82 percent of respondents feel the current economy will negatively impact private-label, closed-loop cards, but nearly three-quarters of those interviewed feel the recession will increase sales volumes of branded prepaid cards, which will be driven mainly by government cards, consumer incentive cards, and payroll and health care cards.
According to the respondents, improving the market for prepaid cards requires greater efforts to educate the public on the benefits of prepaid technology and how technology must be better leveraged to improve the reload process.
Montreal-based payment solutions company Intercash Europe Ltd., a sponsor of the Casino Affiliate Convention from March 30 to 31, 2009, at the NH Grand Krasnapolsky Hotel in Amsterdam, used the exposure to show online merchants and affiliate program managers the benefits of its MasterCard Worldwide prepaid solution. According to Intercash, the program allows merchants to issue payments to their affiliates and partners via prepaid cards, which facilitates global payment efficiency and reduces administrative costs.
"In the online industry, many start-up companies are afraid to get involved due to the initial setup costs and lengthy process, despite the short- and long-term benefits," said Patrick Seguev, Chief Executive Officer of Intercash. "We want to help new merchants by waiving all setup costs and eliminating a minimum card order for those who sign up with us at our CAC booth.
"We are also offering free access to our platform and are issuing a limited number of free cards." Online gambling merchants can use Intercash Europe's card services to allow players (customers) instant access to payment funds and to withdraw their winnings directly to their prepaid cards 24 hours a day. "We want to show these companies that there is no reason to continue to depend on electronic funds transfers and checks to pay online customers and affiliate members," Seguev said.
Mercator Advisory Group, a payments industry consultancy, said the number of underbanked and unbanked individuals in the United States is rapidly growing due to the recession. Mercator estimated in November 2008 that the volume of transactions on general-purpose prepaid cards totaled more than $4 billion for the year. Additionally, the company forecasts an increase to $7.2 billion in 2009 and $10.8 billion in 2010.
Coinstar E-Payment Services, a subsidiary of electronic payment solutions and money transfer company Coinstar Inc., was named a top prepaid performer in the 2009 Convenience Store Decisions brand preference study. The study polled 65 decision makers from convenience store chains about the sales and product performance of their prepaid service providers.
Survey questions included which prepaid manufacturer offers the most effective sales program, the best quality products and the best supplier relationship. Coinstar shared top honors with PaySpot Inc. and Verizon Inc.
Steve Streit, CEO and founder of prepaid card distributor Green Dot Corp., was honored by prepaid industry publication Paybefore with its Industry Achievement Award, which recognizes "an individual who has contributed most to the success and progress of the prepaid and stored-value card industry during the past year." Additionally, TransCard LLC won in the Best Corporate Funded Prepaid Card category for its development of a dual-purpose fuel and pay card for U.S. Xpress Enterprises Inc.
Mobile commerce applications provider Blaze Mobile Inc. and MasterCard launched the Blaze Mobile Master Card PayPass mobile payment sticker. The sticker can be affixed to any handheld device, enabling it to be used for "Tap and Go" purchases at any of the 141,000 merchant locations that accept PayPass.
Foreign exchange specialists Canton FX and mobile payments solutions company Petra Financial launched the Touchstone mobile application in March 2009. Touchstone reportedly enables travelers to make international payments on their phones anywhere in the world.
Enid, Okla.-based Central Bank of Enid is now issuing SizzleMoney card, a mobile prepaid product from Denarii Payments Inc., that allows customers access to money, payment services and payroll distribution through its short message service. SizzleMoney is also the first mobile transaction product to focus on community money sharing, which facilitates payments by transferring money from customers to merchants via SizzleMoney accounts.
Cubic Transportation Systems Inc., a fare collection systems provider for public transportation, signed an exclusive software and licensing agreement with contactless and near field communication POS solutions company ViVOtech. The partnership will enable Cubic's Tri-Reader to process bank cards, prepaid cards and smart card-enabled mobile phones.
Under the agreement, Cubic will integrate ViVOtech's contactless payment software into the latest generation Tri-Reader platforms. Cubic said it will also obtain certification for MasterCard PayPass, Visa Inc.'s PayWave, as well as American Express Co. and Discover Financial Services cards.
POS terminal manufacturer Hypercom Corp. said AXS Pte Ltd., a Singapore-based electronic service delivery network (ESDN) operator, selected its Optimum T4220 Ethernet terminals to provide high security, end-to-end technology upgrades for AXS's 560 automated self-service kiosks. The AXS ESDN platform allows organizations to reach target audiences via e-applications or Web services.
Contactless chip technology company Inside Contactless and mega-processor First Data Corp. signed a three-year agreement to develop contactless payment stickers, which First Data will market as GO-Tag products. Under the agreement, Inside Contactless will supply MicroPass payment stickers exclusively to First Data-qualified card manufacturers for production.
"First Data's GO-Tag solution represents an important step in the evolution from today's plastic cards and fobs, offering a bridge to the future of mobile payments," said Barry McCarthy, General Manger, Mobile Commerce and POS Solutions, First Data. "This partnership enables us to offer consumers an opportunity to turn just about any personal item, from a mobile phone to an ID badge, into a payment device."
Stored-value solutions company ProfitPoint Inc. acquired the merchant processing portfolio from Louisville, Ky.-based ISO ePayment Consultants. "This acquisition reinforces our commitment to expanding the [stored-value] business, especially at a time when many players in the payment space are in a wait-and-see mode," said Vaden Landers, ProfitPoint's CEO.
Fidelity National Information Services Inc. agreed to acquire processor Metavante Technologies Inc. in a stock deal valued at approximately $2.94 billion.
This acquisition expands Fidelity's presence in the financial information technology space. "Increasingly, the market is demanding comprehensive, integrated solutions," said Nancy Atkinson, Senior Analyst for payment research firm Aite Group. "The combination of these companies provides greater depth and breadth in their offerings and supports those market demands."
Mobile payment solutions provider Obopay Inc. named Teppo Paavola, Vice President and Head of Corporate Business Development at Nokia USA, to its board of directors.
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